Mothering Lotus

This week in my classes we will be practising the Mothering Lotus with YAM at Anahata. Take a look at this video if you are curious.....and I'll write a little description about what I'm actually doing next week, or come to class! (Wednesdays at Zen Yoga, 12:30 - 13:30) 

LL x

Shining light on the Golden Hours

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Your baby is born and you meet for the very first time. Her lungs are expanding and she begins taking her first breaths. Blood is still pumping from the placenta into her body, rich with oxygen and nutrients that can be wasted if cut too soon. As you and your baby gaze into each other’s eyes, smell each other and explore around each other’s amazing bodies, maybe the first feed happens. Her mouth meets your breast and the love hormone oxytocin is surging through you both. These magical, raw and beautiful first few minutes make up The Golden Hours.

There is an overwhelming body of evidence to prove that undisturbed skin-to-skin after birth has positive effects for both mother and baby, but sadly a lot of what we do during birth and immediately after does get in the way of the oxytocin-rich environment post-birth. It’s probably obvious to most of us that drugs and instruments and surgical procedures hinder the baby’s natural instincts to latch on for that first feed, but what about the routine procedures, even after a non-medicated birth? Things like:

  • Early cord clamping
  • Separating mother and baby after birth for whatever reason
  • Cleaning and swaddling the baby before presenting to the mother in arms rather than chest
  • Weighing the baby, dressing the baby with nappy, sleep suit and hat (!)
  • Bright lights, staff entering and leaving, photos, beeping machines, phone calls
  • Mother being washed too soon / baby being washed too soon. As mammals we imprint on each other via smell and pheromones- vital for safe and close attachment
  • Mother and baby not kept warm, safe, private, unobserved.

 

What are the benefits of an undisturbed first few hours?

Your baby entering the world, leaving your body after 10 months of closely guarded protection, is a big emotional and physical shift to say the least and instinctively, most women (although not all) will want to scoop their babies up and keep them close. Feeling that skin on skin contact keeps the surges of oxytocin, flooding your every cell. When this happens, just like in childbirth, your uterus contracts and then the placenta can follow more quickly and easily, reducing the risk of postpartum haemorrhage. Meanwhile the Motherbaby dyad are closely connected, already learning a thousand things about each other, smells, sights, sounds. The mother will already begin to recognise the early cues that her baby is giving her to feed – communicating earthside for the first time.

One of the things a Doula can do is to support you to have the optimal experience in your Golden Hours. I’ve spoken to many mothers who say that once their baby was born it was a bit of a blur and they don’t know what happened with the placenta, cord cutting or why baby was taken to be weighed at that particular moment, how a hat got on her head etc etc etc.  A Doula can help to keep Motherbaby together, as a Dyad, preferably, skin-to-skin, uninterrupted and undisturbed for as long as possible. Because we know the benefits, the evidence and we will know that the baby will weigh the same an hour or two after birth as they do the second they emerge, there really is no rush to weigh them!

It’s also common for caregivers to help the mother and baby with the first latch, but in most cases, this is unnecessary. When babies who have not been exposed to medication, are placed skin to skin with their mothers and left undisturbed, they will instinctually crawl to their mother’s breast and attach themselves to the nipple. This is now known as the ‘breast crawl’ and was first observed by Swedish researchers in the 1980s. There are lots of lovely You Tube videos on this if you search 'newborn breast crawl.' Here is one for example

Lots of skin-to-skin with the mother can also help babies born after a medicated birth or a c-section to find their way to the nipple.

 

Visitors

When it comes to feeding, as Doulas we will encourage uninterrupted skin-to-skin with mother until the first feed is completed at least, and then as much as possible for the first week, or even two or three weeks! It’s called the Golden Hours (plural) for a very good reason! I know of a Postnatal Doula who is on the firm-side with her clients. She tucks the mother and baby up together during her postnatal visits and arranges for the second Saturday after the birth to be an Open House for visitors. They are permitted to come if, and only if they bring food for the new mother and father, the baby stays in the mothers arms the entire time and they are gone within two hours! I just love her for this. Now, I’m not sure I will enforce these rules in my postnatal doula support just yet, BUT I respect why she does this and between you and me I sort of wish I had her after my own first birth!

 *It’s important to mention, that Doulas just want you to know your options and of course, this includes being presented with a nice clean baby in a pretty blanket for your first cuddle if that is what you want. It also includes Dad having the first cuddle if that's your choice, or visitors filling your house on day 2 postpartum. It’s my job to give you all the information, all the reading and evidence, all your options, then support your decision whatever that is.

My Top 3 Golden Hours Signposts

 1)    http://www.cochrane.org/CD003519/PREG_early-skin-skin-contact-mothers-and-their-healthy-newborn-infants

 (Some evidence from studies on skin-to-skin.)

  

2)    http://www.kangaroomothercare.com/

Dr Bergman developed and implemented Kangaroo Mothercare (KMC) for premature infants from birth.

 

3) http://www.homebirth.org.uk/ (scroll down to Third Stage)

 

LL x

 

 

 

 

The joy of Yoga Nidra

The joy of Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is that part of your yoga class where you feel like you're being tucked up into bed. The part where you might think..."I had no idea yoga was so relaxing, I thought it was about balancing on your head?!" That part of class where you drift into a dreamy state and leave the room feeling like you're floating on a cloud. 

Yoga Nidra is a potent meditative resource for healing, insight, and empowerment. Yoga Nidra means "Yogic Sleep". It is a deep relaxation in which you leave the waking state, go past the dreaming state, and enter into the deep sleep state, while remaining fully awake and alert. This state of awareness is extremely beneficial, both for releasing stress, and for experiencing the joy of subtler spiritual explorations or experiences.

During pregnancy, Yoga Nidra can help promote better sleep and better relaxation (both are gold and in pregnancy even more so). If yoga in its entirety helps to move the pesky mind out of the way, Yoga Nidra awakens the body's innate wisdom, allowing it to simply do what it knows. Here is where the similarity lies with hypnobirthing.

Hypnobirthing and Yoga Nidra

In an ideal world, in an ideal western society, Hypnobirthing and expensive Hypnobirthing courses would not exist. You see, you already have the perfect system of giving birth created in your body. Your body knows exactly what it is doing, but the trouble is, we are sort of bombarded with negative birth stories, scaremongering media and unhelpful pre-conceptions which often stop it from working properly. When w ego into labour, the fact is that Hypnobirthing practices and yoga nidra, can help you to release fear and give you the tools to birth comfortably and with bundles of confidence. 

Here is a link to my favourite Yoga Nidra for Pregnancy download. It's from The Yoga Nidra Network, set up by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and Nirlipta Tuli. Please credit them if you share this link. 

Enjoy! With love,

LL

x

 

 

 

My Birth Story: Rebecca and Jason

My Birth Story: Rebecca and Jason

My due date was on the 8th May 2016. Bags packed, toenails painted, hypnobirthing cd on replay. We were so ready and couldn't wait for things to begin. My labour began on the 10th May after seeing my midwife for a sweep, she confirmed I was 2cm dilated. Later that day labour started with a show and mild contractions which were 15 minutes apart and quite manageable, so manageable in fact that we decided to go to the local pub that night for dinner as I knew things can take a while to kick in.

The contractions eased up the next morning so started bouncing on my physio ball sniffing a bottle of clary sage whilst sipping raspberry leaf tea.  Jason massaged my lower back and attached the tens machine (incredible at this stage!!)  By 2 pm the contractions were 8 minutes apart and becoming more intense, by 10pm the contractions were far more intense and coming every 4 minutes. It was time to head to the Stoke Mandeville birthing centre. Feelings of excitement, anticipation and the unknown took hold of both of us whilst driving down our bumpy lane (twice as Jason forgot if he'd locked the front door).

On arrival I was examined and disappointedly had not dilated any further, the midwife did a sweep and stretch (ouch!) and suddenly my contractions became intense and all consuming.  She then told me we could go home, I knew I wanted to stay in hospital as I felt so safe and calm there so they agreed we could.

It was so busy that night so we headed up to the postnatal ward. Walking became impossible so I was wheeled to a cubicle to await imminent dilation. This was the strangest part of the labour for me, my contractions were coming every minute, almost feeling like there was no break between them and all I could have was paracetamol until I had got to 4cm. We were in a room with sleeping new mums, brand new babies and another lady that seemed so in control of her labour, all I knew was I felt so uncomfortable to make too much sound. The environment made such a difference to the way I felt I could cope. The overwhelming waves of labour at this stage meant I couldn't relax which made my body fight what was happening. After 2 hours on PN ward they ran me a bath, this helped a lot as we finally had a room to ourselves, the contractions at this point were becoming frequent and far stronger.

Everything slowed down at this point,  in fact I almost feel like it was a blur through these few hours.  After what felt way longer than 4 hours I was examined, I was finally 4cms and ready to head to the birthing centre. I'd had a strep B test come back positive so I needed IV antibiotics, The midwives helped me onto a transformer labouring bed where they put a cannula in my hand, it took a few attempts but finally started to administer the antibiotics whilst taking gas and air. Relief.

The hypnobirthing really helped at this point, I couldn't panic, I had to surrender to the pain, I had to trust my body and wow our bodies are amazing. Jason was so supportive and was in constant discussion about what was going on, this made a huge difference as I had a voice that knew what I wanted. The room was bright and not the place I wanted to give birth so I asked if the water pool was free yet, it was and a midwife ran in to let me know they were running the bath for me. My contractions then changed and felt quite different, expulsive creating a feeling of wanting to push,  the midwife reminded me I would have to wait as the antibiotics needed 2 hours to work. An impossibility, my cervix had dilated completely from 4 cms to 10 cms in an hour.

We arrived in the birthing pool room, it was dimly lit, relaxing music playing and the water felt incredible. After a long wait I was finally in the pool, Jason was right by me and I finally could let go. I think I roared like a lioness, my waters broke and I started to feel pressure, it was her head. Jason started to cry as he saw her little head full of jet black hair emerge. It was all I needed to see to keep going, I kept saying is the midwife here she has to catch the baby as I'm pretty sure they were quite shocked as to how quickly it all happened. With a few more roars our baby appeared, the midwives caught her and placed her on my chest, there she was my gorgeous baby girl it was incredible. Jason was so emotional and we both stared at her in amazement.

After a few moments Jason cut the cord, held her in his arms for skin on skin and I climbed out of the bath to birth the placenta. I needed a couple of stitches but they were really no problem. All exhausted, Eleanor Primrose Pearce had arrived on earth. We were totally in love. The midwives and support enabled me to have my dream birth and I'm so incredibly grateful to the team at Stoke. She weighed a healthy 7lb1.

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Babies are from Pluto: A Newborn FAQ.

Babies are from Pluto: A Newborn FAQ.

Early motherhood can seem a like a minefield for new parents. When I asked my new mum friends and colleagues what their top challenge to navigate was, they said ‘directly conflicting information’ as number 1. From midwives to health visitors, GPs, the books… the so-called baby Gurus...it’s endless. Making baby care complicated is in our culture, when really, it shouldn’t be. Human babies after all, are just brand new and tiny human beings, not a different species or tiny aliens from Pluto, so they don’t need specialised care.

Below are some Postnatal FAQs, specific to newborn babies. Just a few little questions I often get asked as a new mum and a Postnatal Doula, that might help you on your own journey.

 

Do newborns really feed 8-12 times in 24 hours and then every 30 minutes in the evenings?

Actually yes. But then….so do we, don’t we? Think of every time during 24 hours you have a meal, snack or a drink. How many of that is in the evening? I love an evening snack, or a cup of tea and a ginger snap….

Breastfed babies need to feed frequently. If he or she is also ‘cluster’ feeding, (having a few of his breastfeeds close together then the rest spaced out a little more) — this is totally normal too. She is very clever. The important thing to remember is that the more often a baby suckles at the breast, the more milk is produced.

At times during the early weeks your baby may appear to be more hungry than usual — he will be “asking” to build up your supply in preparation for a spurt of growing and developing.

Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM) useful tip:
“Don’t be tempted to make comparisons between how often your baby feeds and a bottle fed baby’s patterns. Breastfed babies have a totally different pattern of feeding.”

In fact….check out this FAQ out for all things breastfeeding. (From ABM website.)

 

What are the benefits of a babymoon?

When we start something new or at times of change in our lives, most of us need extra support, protection and nurturing. Becoming a parent is no different. We need to take things slowly and find our feet. This might be hiring a postnatal doula, to help with meals, looking after your other children, walking the dog, washing up, keeping visitors at bay, juicing the placenta (!) or just sitting with the new mother and talking to her, listening to her, holding her if she needs to be held or of course, offering breastfeeding support. It might also be welcoming your own mother into your home to mother you for a while. It might also be, after the first initial weeks have passed that you head off to another location for a while to be pampered as a new family.

 

Do babies need to be left to cry to teach them to self-soothe?

How does it make you feel when your baby cries? If you feel upset or anxious at the sound, perhaps nature has designed that reaction in you for a reason. When you are crying with hunger, pain, anguish or tiredness would you like to be ignored? Orrr how about a pair of loving arms and coos of comfort? The power of touch is incredibly important for your baby’s growth and development, almost as important as food.

These questions above are to help you as a new parent, figure out a way that suits you best, and to know that it’s ok if you don’t like the sound of your baby crying. Some parents find that they figure out ways to cope with their very normal newborn in order to stay sane, get enough sleep and enjoy the fourth trimester.

 

All I keep hearing is “babies need a routine - and as early as possible!” Do they?

Do you eat, drink and sleep to a strict regimented routine every day? Or do you tend to eat when hungry, sleep when tired and each day is ever-so-slightly (or vastly) different? Babies tend to be the same. However, no routine does not mean living in chaos. Many babies fall into predictable patterns and sometimes these patterns resemble routines set out in the baby-care manuals. Imposing a schedule on your baby, or waiting to see what happens with your baby is a choice you have to make for your family. But again it might be useful to keep in mind that some babies rebel against routines, strongly, but then quickly show their preferred pattern to the day. Newborn babies have instincts and reflexes and no circadian rhythms of their own. They have needs and they ask for them to be met so she can develop and grow.

 

Is it really dangerous to sleep in the same bed as a baby?

The vast majority of the human race share sleeping space today.

James Mckenna, Ph.D: "Without the stimulation from maternal-infant contact and interactions - including nighttime sensory exchanges - neonatal brain cells are potentially lost forever.”

Understanding the issues about where a baby sleeps is important. The motherbaby dyad (they are one) have just been through an enormous transition. Newborn babies don’t know they are a separate entity from the mother after birth. When her comforting body and smell are gone, how does a baby know she is ever coming back? Stoneage women didn’t put their babies in the next-door nursery cave and have babies really evolved that much since then?

If you are interested in suggestions to help families cope with broken nights, leave a comment below. It’s a separate discussion really. But in short, no it is not but it’s worth a read on how to bedshare safely. Read more here.

 

Does my baby need a bubble bath every day?

Would you say that you need a bubble bath every day? And babies don’t do half the messy adult stuff you do. It’s worth remembering that a baby’s skin is four times thinner than ours, so chemicals can penetrate.

 

Why doesn’t breastfeeding come naturally?

Even monkeys learn this art by observation. Don’t be too hard on yourself or your baby if it takes you a little while to get into your groove with breastfeeding. There is also a lot of conflicting information out there, which you probably already know.

Sometimes the majority of antenatal education focuses on the birth of your baby, with a fraction concentrating on breastfeeding. This gives mothers a limited knowledge of her body and anatomy.

There is not one way to breastfeed, and as a postnatal doula, some of the time I will merely support a mother to finding the best way for her and her baby to feed together. Women are very versatile feeders and as for babies...well did you know they can self attach if we just leave them to it?

Read more about Biological Nurturing here. 

Finally, my personal favourite (I shouldn’t have favourites really but between you and me):

 

Am I spoiling my baby by carrying him/holding him all the time?

It is impossible to spoil a newborn baby. A baby only realises he or she is separate from mother at around six months old - that’s when leaving the room is met with whimpers or cries.

Anthropologists believe that inventing baby carrying has enabled the survival of our species. Homosapien babies have no fur or body hair, our babies are so vulnerable to the cold, to predators, helpless and defenceless. A mother’s chest is the closest a baby can get to being back in the womb. Her chest is nature’s incubator.  Skin-to-skin contact regulates baby’s body temperature, heart rate and respiration, reduces stress hormones in the motherbaby dyad and keeps oxytoxin high and adrenaline low...which is what your body needs to ensure a good milk flow. Skin-to-skin encourages baby’s instincts to root for the breast, it helps a mother’s uterus to contract back to normal size and, I don’t know if you have noticed this one but, it promotes parental confidence. Having your baby on your chest makes you feel like a mother, like a powerful mother, a force to be reckoned with!

And the skin-to-skin benefits continue long after the newborn stage.

I’m going to try to blog about each one of these (but also others) in a little more detail in time so if you have a preference, which one should I start with? (Message me below)

 

LL x